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Unfortunately, a large family with elderly

parents has claimed the final seats in the ter- minal, and with the increasingly cramped area a challenge to tolerate for any extended period of time, you decide to step outside to breathe the fresh mountain air and grab your first glimpse of the stunning scenery. If only it weren’t a bone-chilling 10 degrees… Similar scenes unfolded many times over

the past year as the small Mammoth Yosem- ite Airport added flights to its schedule. The airport will become even busier this winter as new locations are added to the list and as many as seven flights a day are scheduled for arrival. Lucky would-be visitors from San Diego

and Orange County received the exciting news that the airport will begin accepting flights from their local airports for the first time this winter. This arrangement undoubtedly creates an easier travelling alternative for ski bunnies who don’t want to brave southern California traffic en route to a relaxing getaway. With the airport now slated to accept flights

from five connecting hubs this ski season, ad- ditional facilities have become an absolute necessity to accommodate the expected sur- plus of travelers. Airport Manager Bill Manning said that

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16 Winter 2011

without this new temporary facility, problems would certainly arise since flights are expect- ed to overlap when these scheduling changes go into effect and the single gate facility can only process one plane at a time. With 76 passengers on each plane and a terminal seating capacity of only 60, travel- ers would be unable to fit inside the airport as they prepare to board or wait for loved ones. The crowds inside would quickly become too difficult to manage. Fortunately, the new holding facility is

scheduled for completion by Dec. 2 — plenty of time for the new scheduling changes to go into effect Dec. 15. Plus, it comes complete with heat, refresh-

ments and seating for an additional 80 peo- ple. A steel framed tent measuring approximate-

ly 2,200-square feet, the temporary structure will contain a snack bar with a variety of food and beverages, a new restroom facility and a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. That means no more standing in cramped quarters waiting for loved ones to arrive or shivering in frigid mountain temperatures to catch a last glimpse of Mt. Morrison before departing for the big city.

The structure isn’t going to be an eyesore

either. The outside walls will be an olive green

hue to match the current airport’s color, with landscaping adorning the surrounding area. While Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi said there isn’t going to be much landscaping this fall, there are funds set aside for projects in the future. Since, so far, no plans have had to be altered due to finan- cial considerations, the July Planning Com- mission report’s landscaping specifications of three to four Aspen trees, measuring six feet in height, and potted wildflowers are likely to make the temporary structure appear as or- ganic as possible. Bill Manning also assures that the structure

is built to withstand all types of weather and that it will serve all the community’s needs for the next five years, the time period allotted to the planning and construction of the per- manent airport facility. He said that “we are working on an airport

layout plan and terminal area study” for this permanent structure at the moment and that this project will match up with the five year period designated for the sprung structure. In the meantime, the temporary holding facil- ity will effectively serve the community by allowing the Mammoth Yosemite Airport to provide a greatly improved travel experience to locals and tourists alike. Ultimately, this project is expected to par- ticularly help the tourism industry in Mam- moth Lakes, a welcome reality in these tough economic times. The new structure will ‘absolutely bring in additional tourism … especially from San Di- ego because of the length of the drive,” Urdi said. He also predicts that the area will see an

influx of international visitors, because of the airport’s connections to five international hubs — Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. Gifting a boosted economy and a greatly improved travelling experience, this project will be a welcome addition to the Mammoth community. Manning affirms, “The facility will be a

real boon for the people who live here and anyone who wants to visit here.” Caitlin Delehanty is a freelance writer and

East Coast native who recently spent time in India working for an initiative of the Dalai Lama’s foundation called Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace.

Mammoth Sierra Magazine

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